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Doctor insights on: Are There Any Options Other Than A Shunt To Help With Hydrocephalus

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Are there any options other than a shunt to help with hydrocephalus?

Are there any options other than a shunt to help with hydrocephalus?

Possibly.: Hydrocephalus is caused by a blockage in cerebrospinal fluid flow. Depending on exactly where the blockage is, it might be amenable to an endoscopic 3rd ventriculostomy, where a small hole is punctured in the floor of the third ventricle to relieve the blockage. No external shunt is needed in these cases. If the blockage is in the wrong area however, this will not work.

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Shunt (Definition)

Device that allows the flow of usually a fluid between two places. Sometimes a shunt may be used during carotid endarterectomy surgery to maintain the blood flow to the brain while the carotid artery ...Read more


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How does a shunt work to treat hydrocephalus?

How does a shunt work to treat hydrocephalus?

Relieves csf: A shunt diverts CSF that is accumulating in the spaces of the brain called ventricles to the abdominal space. Normally the CSF which is produced in the ventricles exists through small pores in the ventricles to circulate the brain and down the spinal cord. If those pores are blocked or the CSF can not drain to the spinal cord, then it accumulates in the ventricles and decrease brain tissue.

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Can a child stop needing a shunt for hydrocephalus?

Can a child stop needing a shunt for hydrocephalus?

Possible: It is possible for the hydrocephaly to slowly resolve and not re-occur. It certainly depends what caused the hydrocephaly in the first place. It is more common to slowly resolve if it was caused by a blled in the brain when the baby was premature. Less likely if the cuase is a physical restriction of the flow of CSF as in dandy-walker cyst or arnold chiari defect.

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How dangerous is having a shunt put in for hydrocephalus?

Common procedure: While untoward outcomes may occur with any surgery, shunt placement is one of the most commonly performed neurosurgical procedures. The surgery entails passing a tube or catheter into the brain. Another catheter is passed under the scalp and skin and into the abdomen. Joining the two catheters is a pressure regulatory valve. This serves to divert fluid into the abdomen where it can be absorbed.

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How do you take care of a child with a shunt for hydrocephalus?

How do you take care of a child with a shunt for hydrocephalus?

Normally: As long as the shunt functions well, ther essentially is nothing that needs done other than to treat your child normally, with perhaps some care to avoid situations where there may be head trauma.

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Are there tests to see if I still have hydrocephalus? I have a shunt.

CT & Neuro tests: Generally, hydrocephalus poses specific neurologic signs & symptoms (Sx), which lead 2 testing. Dilated ventricles (fluid sacs in brain) can b seen on CT scan. U may have "frozen ventricle" meaning an abnormal CT scan w/o Sx; or shunt malfunction w/ Sx. If u r having symptoms like when u were 1st diagnosed, TTY neurologist, who can perform specific neurologic tests (tandem walk, etc.) 4 diagnosis.

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How should you know if there is a problem with a hydrocephalus shunt?

Many different thing: Shunt malfunction may cause neurologic symptoms, such as headaches or sometimes seizures. A ct scan will usually show recurrent hydrocephalus in cases of shunt malfunction, but this may take some time to occur. It is important to have old studies for comparison.

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How often are there complications during shunt placement for hydrocephalus?

Not often: Shunt placement procedure is usually safe. Malplacement, small amount of bleeding could rarely occur. It's important to note that 50% of shunts will fail in the first 2 years and will need to be revised.

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What's are the difference between the three available programmable shunts commonly used to treat hydrocephalus?

Several Differences: Several differences exist. One the number of pressure settings, available to program, another is the ability to tolerate exposure to mri. Finally, the ability to 'virtually shut the device off' by using a high pressure setting is another feature present that may or may not be present in a given device. Disclosure: I work for one of the companies that make these devices.

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Had hydrocephalus but shunted so why the enlarged head?

Already formed: When the head is forming and the sutures of the skull are not fused- and hydrocephalus ensues, the head will be large as they may not return to the normal location. Shunting simply keeps the internal pressure of the brain down by taking off excess spinal fluid.

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How common is the need for a shunt with external hydrocephalus?

Only if necessary: Hydrocephalus is a complex of high brain pressure and extra amount of brain water. Many patients have brain imaging that shows extra brain water but have no pressure. If there is no signs of obstruction along pathways through the brain, it is considered "external" hydrocephalus. If there is no pressure, there is no need for shunt. If there is definite pressure, a shunt is the best treatment.

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I'm going to have shunt surgery for hydrocephalus and I'm scared?

Fairly routine: For an experienced and seasoned neurosurgeon, placement of a shunt to reduce pressure secondary to hydrocephalus is usually a safe and routine procedure, unlikely to be associated with complications. However, due to your fears, have a complete pre-operative meeting with the surgical team, and get all your questions and concerns addressed.

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Why do I need to lie down for 24 hours after hydrocephalus shunt surgery?

Surgeon preference: Your surgeon must have a preference for you laying down. Every neurosurgeon's practice is different and yours definitely has his reasons. I would not second guess his protocol. In our facility, our shunt patients are usually up and walking the evening of surgery and home the next day- but trust your surgeon.

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What's the process involved in having a shunt operation due to hydrocephalus?

A tube is placed: The shunt for hydrocephalus simply takes fluid from an area of the brain where too much has accumulated and allows it to drain easily into another part of the body, usually the tissues inside the abdomen. To place it, the surgeon puts and anchors one end of a valved tube in the fluid area of the brain and the other in the abdomen.

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How long does it take for an adult to recover from shunt surgery for hydrocephalus?

Week: If the shunt is working appropritely then the intial symptoms, ie headache, ataxia, bladder issues will resolve quickly. The obdominal incision whether open or laparoscopic will become increasingly pain free over that same week.

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In a baby with hydrocephalus and after shunting will the child need a new shunt next year or two?

In a baby with hydrocephalus and after shunting will the child need a new shunt next year or two?

Possibly: If the shunt stops working (shunt failure), it will need to be revised. This often entails placing a completely new shunt system or a partial new system. It is impossible to predict exactly when this will happen, but the general risk of shunt failure is 10% per year. The shunt may also need to be lengthened as the child grows. All of the above possibilities entail a surgical procedure.

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My husband has hydrocephalus with shunt. Placed 21 years ago. He is having headaches, some pretty severe. Should we be concerned?

My husband has hydrocephalus with shunt. Placed 21 years ago. He is having headaches, some pretty severe. Should we be concerned?

See a neurosurgeon: There are many causes of headache. With a history of a vp shunt, I would suggest having the shunt evaluated by a neurosurgeon in their office and go from there.

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Dr. James Goodrich
707 Doctors shared insights

Hydrocephalus (Definition)

A condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid or "brain fluid" within the brain which causes increased pressure inside the skull. It can ...Read more